Emi G's Top 6 Cafes in Byron Bay

Australia gets a 4-day long weekend in honor of Easter. It’s kind of funny that it’s basically a national holiday here even though it seems like half of the population is Indian / Asian non-Christian descent (I’m also based in Sydney so that’s skewed). All the stores and brands are allowed to say “Happy Easter” which is totally banned in marketing in the States.

That’s another topic, but I’ll take the 4-day weekend! Since I need to save my annual leave (vacation days) this was a golden travel opportunity. So instead of exploring somewhere I haven’t been I booked my third trip to Byron Bay. I couldn’t resist.

Me loving life on Folk's hairpin stools (which I fell off once. They are for tiny bums) Me loving life on Folk’s hairpin stools (which I fell off once. They are for tiny bums)

I’m a big nerd for coffee shops, and since Australia has a thing for cafes I’ve found myself in a good situation. I had to work remotely one day so I turned it into a little adventure and popped by a couple cafes on my list, and then relished in my discoveries the rest of the weekend. Combined with one of my favourite cafes from my previous visit, the following are my top 6 cafes in Byron Bay:

Folk Byron Bay

www.folkbyronbay.com

Long story short…  this cafe reeks Byron Bay vibes, and it’s not covered with backpackers as it’s a bit out of town – but worth the trip(s)!!! Can’t wait to return

I returned to this place three out of five days, so there’s something to be said about this lovely cafe (I’m obsessed). It’s a ten minute bike ride from town but it is an easy ride and so worth it! The vibes are friendly and relaxed, with an inviting indoor/outdoor setup and great tunes from old hits to new discoveries. I had the most luscious brownie of my entire life, some naturopathic tea, amazing coffee, and I met cool locals working in the shop. I worked almost an entire day from this shop and the WiFi was good too. I loved the design of it all. The food also looked amazing but I actually didn’t get a meal here – but from the looks and reactions of everyone else who ate at Folk, the food seems like a good move.

The Top Shop

The Top Shop Facebook

Go to this cafe if… you want to feel cool, beachy, and enjoy a treat.

Image from Spirit of Bali Image from Spirit of Bali Image via Pinterest  Image via Pinterest

The Top Shop seems like a local favourite. Just a ten minute walk from the main area of town, beachgoers retreat to this cafe for yummy baked goods, great coffee, and smoothies. Every time I went (I don’t just go to places I love once) families and groups of friends were hanging out not only in the cafe but on the lawn out front. Side note everyone looked really trendy.

I have to say this was the best acai bowl I had in Byron. That’s saying a lot!!! Lately I’ve been getting bowls without bananas on top to cut down on some sugar and they happily accommodated (not all Aussie restaurants are down for a menu change…).

Bayleaf Cafe

Bayleaf Cafe Facebook

Go here when you… want a killer brunch and great service.

Brunch at Bayleaf is a must. They do sweet and savory dishes well, and just like most trendy cafes in Australia, the coffee is amazing. ☕️ This indoor/outdoor cafe is right in town so you have no excuse not to go. The staff here was also really friendly despite being so busy. I wanted to befriend everyone.

The Farm at Byron Bay

thefarmbyronbay.com.au

Go here to… get inspired by a wonderful food experience and the philosophy behind it.

Image from the The Gourmet Traveler Image from the The Gourmet Traveler

How could I not mention the Farm! The greatest food mecca I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring. This is a full-on wonderful experience, so I actually included biking to the Farm as one of the top things to do in Byron Bay.

The guys who started The Farm are actually from Bronte, my home beach neighborhood in Sydney ? They believe in surfing, building a community, and eating clean and using local/home-grown ingredients. Even without the awesome mission, the food speaks for itself. Best pumpkin lentil pie I’ve ever had (which is only once. And it was the best.).

Naked Treaties

www.nakedtreaties.com.au

Go here to… get a sense for Byron culture, employees that practice what the cafe preaches, and some yummy raw treats of course!

Image from Guide To Organics Image from Guide To Organics Image from Naked Treaties - it's 'Iced Blues' in honor of Bluesfest :P Image from Naked Treaties – it’s ‘Iced Blues’ in honor of Bluesfest 😛

This place is a lot of yum. It’s a small hip vegan cafe boasting its raw-some brekky, smoothies, desserts and lunch. I love that it’s not only a cafe but a manifestation of the conscious living mindset. ?I would have loved to try the smoothie bowls here – there were a lot of good options. I just had a little power ball and a coffee, very yum

Byron Fresh

www.byronfresh.com

Go here with… a crew for a healthy brunch.

I visited this cafe a couple times on this trip and once on the last trip. It’s a nice place to go with a group. I tried to work from here for a bit one day and I’d say it’s more of a social cafe given its proximity to the beach. It’s not as chilled out as the other cafes, but that’s not saying much because this cafe still has some pretty chill vibes. I’ve had some egg-veggie dishes here and a paleo french toast – both were extremely YUM and left you feeling healthy.

Alas…

Two other cafes I was dying to try were Road House Cafe Bar, and Harvest (recommended by World of Wanderlust). So next time I’m there, I’ll be very busy hitting up old favourites and these new ones.

Also nothing beats a beach barbie (they do say barbie) so grab your mates and have one! ?

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The Perfect Trip to Byron Bay

On my way up to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse  On my way up to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse

Am I cliche for loving Byron Bay? I don’t know. Radiating friendliness and hippie vibes, this town nestled on the Northeast corner of New South Wales is full of barefoot wanderers and every other person is carrying a surfboard. Life revolves around the beach. There’s a seemingly universal emphasis on wellness, with plenty of smoothie-sippers and kombucha brewers hanging in the numerous cafes. Amazing jewellery artists and musicians share their talents on bright graffiti-covered laneways. The fashion and interior design scene is something to drool over (Spell + Hope & May anyone?). Plus, with all the fun locals and backpackers around, there’s a pretty fun but laid-back party scene.

Surfing. Beaches. Chill vibes. Cool design. Amazing live music. Smoothies + organic food galore. Fun parties.… Maybe it’s basic but I’m obsessed with this place.

I spent 3 days in Byron Bay a few months ago, and can confirm that was not enough time. So instead of going somewhere new for the 4-day Easter long weekend, I couldn’t resist returning to Byron to live my truth.

Now I have a great feel for things to do in Byron Bay. These are the highlights of my most recent trip and what I definitely recommend when you visit this magical place!

Hike Up to the Lighthouse

I suppose this is an obvious must! Byron has some great walks. You can do the Coastal walk from the Main Beach, past rock pools and up to the less-crowded Wategos Beach (about an hour leisure walk I think). From there you can continue on to check out the lighthouse. Millie (my travel buddy) and I did the walk in two parts – doing the Main Beach to Wategos one day, and then another day we parked our bikes at the Cape Byron car park and hiked up to the lighthouse (20 min walk each way). The latter of the hikes did include some hills but that was fine. The views were worth it.

Beaches + Surfing

Definitely grab a surfboard while you’re here, even if you’re a beginner! Everyone’s doing it. Or you can watch. Lots of surfing happens on the Main beach, and if you continue south from the Main Beach you’ll end up at the Pass. It’s a bit crowded but a blast.

Image from Common Ground Australia Image from Common Ground Australia Trying to cop a peek at the surfers at the Pass...forgot my swimmers... rookie mistake  Trying to cop a peek at the surfers at the Pass…forgot my swimmers… rookie mistake

One day I went with my friend Harley (who lives up here) out to Suffolk Park, and we hit up the beach there. I think this massive beach is better for more experienced surfers (the waves get pretty nice) but way less crowded if you want to practice in the whitewater. On the day we went it was so choppy and unforgiving and a bit big for me, so I spent most of my time floundering and trying to practice duck-diving and not succeeding. But it’s an amazing beach. Try to check out some beaches outside of town while you’re up here so you can experience how massive and beautiful the NSW coast is. You can have a large part of a world-class beach to yourself! Nuts.

Cafe Crawl

WOW after sampling just some of the amazing cafes in Byron, I am so ~inspired~ to get even more into knowing my ingredients and experimenting with new flavours. And being healthy AF.

I had to work remotely up here one day so I bopped around to a few of the cafes and had some amazing coffee, and even tried naturopathic cacao tea (wut) and it was great. Of course I sampled the acai scene as well. I could rave about a few of the places I visited, so I’ll do a separate post on my 5 favourite cafes in Byron Bay, plus a few other restaurants I’d check out. The food scene here is great.

I think I had the best brownie of my life up here. I had a pumpkin-lentil pie (these are savory pies in Australia), the most perfect beetroot salad…brekky done to perfection… paleo French toast… it’s amazing how great healthy food can taste.

All I can say is come hungry to Byron.

Rent Bikes + Visit the Farm

Speaking of coming hungry to Byron, a must-do is to rent bikes (or drive) and get out to the Farm, an 80-acre community hub, founded by the men behind Three Blue Ducks, one of the most beloved restaurants in Sydney. Here you get to “explore, eat and learn” – I think this blurb from The Weekender describes it well:

The Farm Byron Bay is exactly what it sounds like but with a twist – a fully functional working farm that fosters a community of growers, producers, eateries, educators and more. The property exudes a wonderful community vibe, with groups of children and adults alike wandering the paddocks with a sense of awe. From a growing perspective, the farm is all about sustainability – looking to traditional methods to grow its food, whilst remaining 100% spray and chemical free.

The Farm is simply lovely! Such a chilled-out vibe. The food, drinks and coffee are amazing (there’s gelato too). You can pick up some of your own fruits and veggies, and there’s a plant shop too. We wandered the farm and checked out the Macadamia trees. They have some nut-crackers out there so you can pick up some Macadamia nuts that have fallen from the trees and eat them on the spot. (I tried to rub one Macadamia nut through my hair thinking the Macadamia oil would seep into my hair strands but not sure that’s how it works.)

I geeked out over all the sustainable/local food stuff, with healthy ingredients and this-and-that. Everyone I know who has been to the Farm raves about it, so you should go.

Just Bike Around

Get a bike for at least a day just to discover stuff outside the main strip and beach of Byron. Byron is just a tad spread out but with a bike you can see everything! Of course bike to the Farm, and check out Folk Cafe (my fave) – just on the outskirts of town. You can quickly get to some of the local beaches and find some cool lookouts – I came across the Eric Wright lookout one day (on my way to getting an acai bowl no less) and got a great panoramic view of the hills in the background, all of Byron and the beach!

This place near the beach called Sunshine Electronic Bikes lets you rent their retro electric bikes for the day ($45/day. You pedal a little and then it activates solar electricity to propel you forward. It’s so fun to ride (some lovely boys let us try them ?) and it’s really nice for hills.

Image from Vallkree  Image from Vallkree

Hit up the markets / local shops

In general I’m a huge fan of Australia’s fashion scene, and Byron seems to be the inspiration for a lot of Australia’s prints, vintage looks, festival- and beach-wear. In addition to the awesome jewellery artists on the streets, it’s fun to pop in the vintage shops (there’s a Miss Brown shop up here) and maybe get a special piece (or three… I got excited). Just walking around window shopping is fun – you might not be able to afford most of it unless you’re not a backpacker but it’s great inspiration and cool to take it all in.

Denim jackets might not be for everyone after all Denim jackets might not be for everyone after all Lots of dream catcher inspo here  Lots of dream catcher inspo here Wanted to get this for my dad so bad...if it wasn't $70 Wanted to get this for my dad so bad…if it wasn’t $70 Vintage denim jackets on deck at Miss Brown's Vintage denim jackets on deck at Miss Brown’s

The Bluesfest was awesome because a lot of the popular market stands came to the festival, so you could shop in between sets. I got the moonstone ring I’ve been dreaming of (and for $24 instead of paying $150 for another one in Sydney I’ve been eyeing) and a necklace…and two other rings…and a bikini…and of course a t-shirt from the Bluesfest (inherited my dad’s weakness for a good ‘ol souvenir t-shirt).

Go to the Byron Bay Bluesfest! (or Splendour)

Australia has a talent for putting on legendary festivals, so when in Australia you should try to find one to attend. Millie and I went to the Byron Bay Bluesfest out at the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm for two of the five days, and it was one of the most amazing and unique festivals I’ve ever been to. It was also great to get out of Byron for a couple days and experience something different in this beautiful corner of the world.

The vibes are outrageously friendly – there’s families, friend groups of all ages (from 16 year-olds to 40 year-olds), grandparents with their foldable chairs parked in the back of the music tents, locals, people from all over the world, and Australians coming up for the weekend. Many people have been returning to this festival every year for over twenty years.

As I said there’s markets everywhere which brings some of the amazing Byron market stands right to the festival, so you can poke around between acts. I cleaned up pretty well… Jewellery, a $30 designer bikini and of course a commemorative Bluesfest t-shirt. Very exciting.

Image from Nomad's World Image from Nomad’s World

The aroma in the air was so yum. Food trucks with everything from festival food (elephant ear smell but no elephant ears, that’s not Aussie), to pizza to Mexican to Cajun to the Avocado Hut (hah) to a juice bar. Finding something to eat was always easy (and hard to avoid).

We met a lot of fun people in the beer tents. There’s one near each of the six stages so you’re taken care of. They also have a coffee tent in the middle of the festival that’s open late. I wasn’t the only one getting a soy flat white at 10:30pm.

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Me and my friend Harley who lives in Byron!  Me and my friend Harley who lives in Byron! Met a CUBS FAN here!!!  Met a CUBS FAN here!!!

One of the best parts of the festival was discovering new acts, while getting the chance to see some classics and some contemporary favourites. Here were my highlights:

  • Jimmy Buffet – knew he’d be fun but WOW he was so excited to be there and put on a great show
  • The Doobie Brothers – they rocked the house, put on an awesome show. It was so great to get to see them live
  • Trevor Hall – Trevor and his band brought the house down. I thought they’d be a really chill show but it was nuts, and each of the musicians had insane solos
  • Nahko and Medicine for the People – His violinist is incredible. Then Xavier Rudd (a Byron local) and Trevor Hall came out for the finale and it was magical
  • Buddy Guy – he can still shred. I love blues
  • The California Honeydrops – really fun band with brass instruments, a new discovery I’ll be looking up.
  • Bonnie Raitt – she’s still got it! She was a great performer and I hadn’t listened to a ton of her music before but really loved it
  • Little Georgia – a Aussie folk duo. The girl’s voice is absolutely insane. I listened to their Spotify album and was disappointed the girl isn’t actually featured as much on the album as she was live. They need to put her voice out there more, it’s so good.
  • The Lumineers – I am still a Lumineers fangirl. This was my third time seeing them and again they didn’t disappoint. They are awesome live!
  • The Soul Rebels – A New Orleans brass ensemble with a mix of jazz and hip hop and rock. They were so fun to watch. A new discovery!
  • Jake Shimabukuro – my favourite ukulele player in the world. He also guest-starred on many other shows we saw. Inspired to pick the uke back up again

Another big festival up in Byron Bay is Splendour in the Grass, which is held near the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm. That one is more young-people but is raved about by all my Sydney and Byron friends, so if I can I’d like to go to that too 🙂

Camp

It stays decently warm up in Byron year-round, so definitely camp here! There’s tons of parks with everyone from families to couples to backpackers camping. It’s a very camp-friendly town. My favourite cafe was even situated right next to a big campground so everyone could hang there.

Image from Bluesfest Image from Bluesfest

Camping was built into the Bluesfest for us – luckily we were able to borrow a tent and set up a humble home. But some people are like professional Bluesfest-campers. Their setups were amazing, usually building a cool tent and living area off a campervan. We met a lot of other people who were also camping and could hang with them after the festival under the Southern Cross stars. ✨

Go Out in Byron

You’ll meet people from all over the world in Byron, so it’s worth going out. Of course the Bluesfest was a great time but some of my favourite times were hanging with the locals at the Railway Friendly Bar – that has to be my fave Byron pub (it’s my friend Harley’s too and he lives there). This bar has had live music playing here EVERY night for 25 years. And the music has been amazing every time – and people of all ages have a dance and lots of beers and happy times.

Image from Broken Head Holiday Park Image from Broken Head Holiday Park

I also enjoyed going to the Stone & Wood Brewery the last time I was here. Beach Hotel is an amazing pub on the beach, and Northies (The Northern) gets good and sloppy at night.

I hope I make it back here again soon, but if not soon I will again. I’m coming back to do all of the above, and to revisit my favourite friends and cafes and hopefully be better at surfing the waves next time ?

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